ESL Essay Writing Rubric (2)

Essay writing is an important skill that will likely inevitably need to be taught in most ESL classrooms, and therefore a rubric for assessing this writing is an important tool for a teacher to have.  One such essay writing rubric can be found by following the link here.  This rubric lays out eight categories that would be assessed, and provides values for each category at four levels, with one being the lowest proficiency in that category and four being the highest.  The eight categories being assessed are understanding of audience, hook/introduction, theses/main idea structuring, body/evidence and examples, closing paragraph/conclusion, sentence structure, linking language, and grammar and spelling.  I appreciate the variety of categories here and how there are categories pertaining not just to grammar, which is often heavily emphasized in language, but also to more communicative properties, such as the essay’s organization and structure as well as its usage of linking language.  These are aspects that might not be assessed in a traditional rubric, but are still just as important, since an essay that includes entirely grammatical sentences can still definitely be a bad essay.  Additionally, breaking down the structure of the essay to multiple categories, such as introduction, thesis, body, and conclusion,  and giving each its own box on the rubric, can make the rubric more meaningful and provide lead to more positive washback.  As stated in the book Language Assessment- Principles and Classroom Practices by H. Douglas Brown, specific and generous feedback is needed on assessments for students to be have more positive washback, and having a separate category for each aspect of structure is a good way of making the feedback more specific.  

I would definitely want to use this rubric in the classroom, as I believe it could be applied to a variety of assignments, including argumentative essays and expository essays, which are two common essay types used in the classroom.  I would also need to exaplain the rubric to the students beforehand as that can help improve their performance, as seen in the article “Rubrics for Assessment; Their Effects of ESL Students’ Authentic Task Performance” by Radhika De Silva.  I feel as though for this particular rubric, I would need to take care to explain the difference between sentence structure and grammar, and how those are two different categories, as at first blush it may seem as though grammar and sentence structure are the same.  Other than that however, I believe this rubric to be very useful and straightforward to use in terms of practicality, and I will almost definitely be using it in the classroom in the future.

Works Cited

Beare, Kenneth. “ESL Essay Writing Rubric for Scoring Teachers.” ThoughtCo, 16 July 2018, www.thoughtco.com/esl-essay-writing-rubric-1212374.

Brown, H. Douglas, and Priyanvada Abeywickrama. Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices. Pearson Education, Inc., 2019.

De Silva, Radhika. “Rubrics for Assessment: Their Effects on ESL Students’ Authentic Task Performance”.  Open University of Sri Lanka, 136-14

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3 thoughts on “ESL Essay Writing Rubric (2)

  1. This is a great rubric! Would you introduce the categories of the rubric in different class periods over a stretch of time, or would you present the rubric with its categories first, then provide feedback as they develop their essays? Or maybe some categories ahead of the rubric? I would probably separate each of the parts of the essay (along with Understanding of Audiences) into their own classes and then present the rubric and explain Sentence Structure and Linking Language. Grammar and Spelling would be shown ahead of time.

    The standards on this rubric are crystal-clear and straightforward– so much that the teacher can work backward from each of the categories and teach the students exactly what they need to know when writing a specific essay. That’s what makes this rubric so darn good.

  2. (1/2) This is a great rubric! Would you introduce the categories of the rubric in different class periods over a stretch of time, or would you present the rubric with its categories first, then provide feedback as they develop their essays? Or maybe some categories ahead of the rubric? I would probably separate each of the parts of the essay (along with Understanding of Audiences) into their own classes and then present the rubric and explain Sentence Structure and Linking Language. Grammar and Spelling would be shown ahead of time.

  3. Hi Ellie,
    I agree with you that breaking down the structure of the essay to multiple categories, such as introduction, thesis, body, and conclusion, can make the rubric more meaningful and provide more positive washback. Teaching and assessing cannot be separated. Washback effects of assessment play a key role in adjusting teaching strategies. Also, I like your idea of explaining the rubric to the students beforehand as that can help improve their performance. The explanation can help students better understand what they need to do to achieve higher goals.

    Jacky Yu

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